Four Things I've Learned...

Saturday, February 23, 2019
 At the overly ripe age that I am, I've learned some things. I've resigned myself when it comes to some things. Some things that used to drive me crazy don't anymore.

What did you learn, Sioux? I'm glad you asked...

These are not my tired eyes, but they could be. My eyes might even look worse.

1. For example, tonight I am preparing to head to a writing retreat after work tomorrow. I planned on bringing my 15 yardsticks (covered with strips of cork), my colorful index cards (they're now labeled and laminated--wheee!), my colorful thumbtacks and my hot mess of a manuscript from 2017 to organize.

The problem? I haven't hot-glued the cork onto the yardsticks yet. I could have stayed up all night earlier in the week, but I'm going to leave the stuff at home. It'll wait. I have other things to bring to work on, things that are ready to pack. That's something I've learned: don't kill yourself over things that don't truly matter.

2.  You never know how others are pulling for you until a chance encounter happens. Tonight I was at a local restaurant for a school fundraiser. It involved sitting at a booth and talking to parents and colleagues for 3 hours straight.

When I mentioned I was going on writing retreat, one parent said, "So, are you going to work on your book while you're there?" I didn't even know she knew about my book. Apparently her daughter (one of my students) told her. We laughed together when she said, "When you become rich and famous, you'll remember me, right?"

That's something I learned: there are people eager to nudge you along. You just have to be open to it.

3.  I got my first rejection letter for my manuscript today. To be completely honest, I'd have preferred it be a publication contract, but I immediately printed up the email and plan on collecting them until I eventually get a "yes."

That's another thing I've learned: You may not always succeed. Be proud of the risk you take.

4.  Doing it differently will yield different results. I've pantsed my way through many short, creative nonfiction pieces. I tried to do the same thing with that project from 2017 (a novel wannabe) but it's a meandering mess. Because I believe in it, even though I know it needs to be slashed and burned, I'm going to be using an outline (shudder) to revamp it.

That's one of the hardest lessons I've learned as a writer: Sometimes you have to dump thousands and thousands of words to get your project onto a new path.

How about you? What are four things you've learned as a writer?


Mary Horner said...

Great advice, Sioux. I always love how honest you are, and one of the great things I've learned as a writer is that I can count on you to put into words some of the issues I (and every other writer) also deal with. Thanks for your insight.

Nicole Pyles said...

My biggest lesson learned so far is learning how to let go of a story. That isn't easy but it cleared my head for more creative writing work!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--Thanks, and you're quite welcome. I think we all have to help each other along.

Nicole--Yes, as that character in "Frozen" sings, "Let (them) go!" but it's so difficult, when we worked so hard to get them down...

Renee Roberson said...

I hope you have a wonderful time on your writing retreat, and get to mix relaxation along with productive writing! Here are four things I've learned as a writer:

1. You'll never be done writing a novel. I've seen authors at book signing editing their own published pages in red ink before reading a section out loud. I'm experiencing this myself now. I thought I had a manuscript all ready to go (who was I kidding?) and now I'm adding in scenes like a madwoman!

2. A writer's house will never be spotless unless they have a cleaning service. Which I don't. It's on my list, one day, but for now I keep telling myself the kids will actually want to earn some extra money vacuuming, dusting, etc. using my chore coupons. They haven't. So I continue to live with my dog hair tumbleweeds and it's okay.

3. You will most likely always have to do some type of job to support yourself because writing what you love won't pay the bills. For some authors, this is not true. But how many years did they spend teaching, running a marketing team, waiting tables, so they could write what the are passionate about in the evenings, early mornings and weekends before they finally sold a novel? A lot.

4. We're all in this together. I think writers find one another for a reason. If I only surrounded myself with people who wrote in my genre I would get real bored, real fast. I enjoy learning tips and tricks from all the diverse writers in my life. I hope that we can all provide little something different in our workshops and critiques that will be helpful to others.

Pat Wahler said...

Sioux, what a great post! Love the way you lay it on the line.

Great idea to save that "rejection" email. Seems like I read about some guy who collected a ton of rejection slips. A guy by the name of Stephen King.

Linda O'Connell said...

Enjoy your retreat. You are an awesome writer. Four things I've learned:
1. Never send the first draft
2. Always generously share with others.
3. Even if you write well under pressure, get a head start, jot an idea.
4. Writers are some of the nicest people.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Those are powerful lessons. I have a friend who says that a dirty kitchen floor (especially if it has sticky spots) is safer. You can't slip and fall when your feet get glued to puddle of spilled-but-now-dry jelly.

Pat--I know it's crazy, but I'm proud of that rejection. At least I've gotten to the point where I can send it out.

Linda--You do # 2 with more style and class than just about any other writer I know.

Val said...

I am consistently amazed by your gumption and tenacity, always going that extra mile to refine your work and get it back out there!

Four things I have learned as a writer:

1. Butt-in-chair is not enough if the internet is accessible.

2. Writers are incredibly generous with advice and encouragement. You and Linda know who I'm talkin' about!

3. I can't change my style to write like anyone else, but I CAN use their impartial advice to edit passages in which I have too much personal stake. In effect, allowing someone else to murder my darlings.

4. When you get that spark, write it down. Carry note cards, a tiny spiral notebook, or email yourself. Don't let an idea get away.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Love this post, Sioux. My first immediate thought at the end of it was, only four? I've learned so much. Here are the top things that stay with me:

1. Depending on the day, my work is neither as good nor as bad as I think it is.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There's always someone who knows more.
3. Celebrate all the victories, no matter how small; they'll sustain you through the disappointments.
4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Every writer should stamp it on her head.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Lisa--I've learned so much more than 4, too, but didn't have the time to come up with more (for the post), so... Should I ask more effort out of you than I was able to put out?

I love all 4, but I haven't seen # 1 before, so that one especially appealed to me. And #4 is always a good one to keep tattooed on our forehead.

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